Don't let the bed bugs bite

Victorville Daily Press (CA)
Friday, July 22, 2011

"It's absolutely like living in a horror movie."

That's how Lynn De St. Germain describes the infestation of bed bugs that are driving her from her Oak Hills home.

About five weeks ago, De St. Germain noticed a rash on her arms. She went to the doctor, who chalked it up to stress. But the red welts weren't going away.

"It's incredibly itchy and when you get hot, you sting and burn," De St. Germain said of the bites. "It's like chicken pox."

When she suggested bed bugs, having recently returned from Las Vegas, her husband dismissed the idea. He didn't appear to have a single bite and they didn't see any evidence of the bugs when they changed their mattress pad and sheets.

After several weeks of restless sleep and itching skin, De St. Germain felt something crawling on her skin and slapped at her neck. When she looked down, her hand was covered in blood.

Bed bugs are coming back with a vengeance across the United States - up 81 percent since 2000, according to a recent study from The National Pest Management Association. Experts say it's largely thanks to the increase in international travel and the outlawing of chemicals such as DDT, which can cause cancer but apparently help keep the pests at bay.

Five years ago, Eric Solorio with Main Street Exterminator in Hesperia said he might get one call a year about bed bugs. Now he's giving up to 50 quotes annually and treating 10 sites, including hotels and homes across the Victor Valley.

"They are hard to get rid of," Solorio said, with treatment often requiring him to take apart picture frames, empty every drawer and lift up carpet.

Because of the intensive labor involved, Solorio said an average home could cost around $850. And while that's good for business, Solorio said bed bugs are his least favorite job, since he always fears he's bringing them home with him.